On February 8, 2010, W.E.T. Automotive Systems AG, a global leader in automotive thermal comfort systems based in Germany, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against United States-based Amerigon Incorporated in the U.S. District Court for the State of Michigan, Eastern District. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of W.E.T.’s Canadian subsidiary, seeks monetary damages for eight alleged patent infringements. The subject W.E.T. patents relate to seating and blower technologies used in W.E.T.’s heating systems, and the legality of multiple Amerigon products are in dispute. Prior to the lawsuit, W.E.T. offered to enter into mediation with Amerigon hoping to resolve these issues without entering litigation. Amerigon, however, declined to do so, and this lawsuit followed.
Patent infringement aside, this case involves a variety of litigation issues including foreign entities filing suit in the U.S., the allure of alternative dispute resolution forums, and pre-litigation negotiation. Masuda Funai will continue to monitor this young lawsuit as events unfold.